Tuesday’s session of the Legislature featured four bills aimed at limiting nonresident hunters and another to make it easier for residents to draw a Smith River floating permit. Three of the four hunting bills were tabled in the Senate Fish and Game Committee. The one that survived would limit the amount of time nonresidents could hunt in the state to 14 consecutive days. That bill will be modified, as it moves into the House for consideration, to remove the regulation for hunters pursuing species like bighorn sheep, mountain goat and moose. The bill allowing residents to purchase a $5 bonus point to increase their odds of drawing a Smith River permit passed the House Fish and Wildlife Committee and will now be heard in the Senate. All are measures attempting to put a brake on the increases in nonresidents recreating in Montana that has surged over the past decade. At the same time, the amount of private lands available to hunters and enrolled in the Block Management Program have dropped. Hunters have been vocal in proposing limits, but the Legislature is willing to let groups get together after the session to see if they can draft some sort of compromise to get conservation, hunting and outfitting groups on the same page. To learn more, check out my story at https://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/senate-committee-tables-3-of-4-bills-aimed-at-reducing-nonresident-hunters/article_a6d48f54-ce60-11ed-9109-3707320ba214.html.
Written by Brett French | Outdoors editor | Billings Gazette Communications